Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Review: The Vegetarian

The Vegetarian The Vegetarian by Han Kang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I try to read award winning books, I figure they win them for good reason, but I've had a long stretch of not liking any of them. Streak broken! This book was really interesting. I kind of wish the first section, told from the Vegetarian's point of view, had been longer but I decided it was more significant that you didn't understand her as well since no one else did. This book just had a lot going on. It was about domestic abuse, PTSD, impulse control, patriarchies, women's rights, mental health, and society's standards. Like I said, lot going on. You really can't take away any of these topics either or it would all fall apart. It's remarkable so much is crammed in to such a short story without leaving the reader clutching their aching brain. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

This honest review is in exchange for a free e-galley from Netgalley.com.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Honestly, I wasn't really in the mood to read this book but I thought I'd read the movie was leaving HBO soon and I wanted to read this before watching it. With that in consideration, I was surprised this actually had me laughing out loud at parts. The narrative style is very casual and fun to read. Not really what you expect when the title mentions a dying girl as one of the characters. I was also glad that I didn't end up balling my eyes out. An emotional response is a sign of a strong story but crying gives me headaches and headaches make it hard to keep reading. Vicious cycle.

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Book Reading and Review of Moby's Memoir

I love going to book readings.  Unfortunately, I don't make it to very many.  About a week before he was going to be in Minneapolis, I'd found out about Moby's book reading.  Of course I had to work. A 13 hour shift. Fortunately, I realized it wasn't absolutely necessary for me to be there for the last few hours and I was able to get the time off to go. HUZZAH!!
I hadn't yet read Moby's book.  I'd planned on buying it at some point but when I decided to go to the reading I knew I had to buy my book there.  I always buy books at stores that host readings as a way of thanking them for their trouble and effort.  So, I was going into this pretty blind.  I consider myself a fan of Moby's music (I have a lot but not all of his CD's) but I honestly didn't know anything else about him.  Needless to say, I learned a lot. :)  Now, I'm just talking about the reading still because I didn't read the book until after.  First off, did not know he was a Vegan.  I'm sure everyone else who knows anything about him knew this already but, as I said, I only listened to his music.  But this was very interesting to me as I had just spent the last month eating (mostly, let's be honest) a vegan diet.  It was going really well for me and I'd been feeling great so it was an interesting coincidence for me.  Moby read from 3 different sections of his book and it was cool getting the bit of back story he could provide that wouldn't be included in the book itself.

At the beginning of the reading, the bookstore rep asked us to turn off our phones.  Does that mean we can't take pictures???  There were people with regular cameras taking photos...Phones didn't always use to be synonymous with cameras.... I really wanted a picture so here's my guerrilla shot.

After the reading, he did a Q & A that was very cool.  He was very kind to everyone that asked a question and had more great stories to tell.  I did not ask a question.  Being an introvert, I'm awkwardly shy around anyone I don't know.  If I know the person and they don't know me....problem magnified to Kepler territory.

Which brings us to the signing.  The bookstore rep was walking down the queue with post-its for people who wanted their book inscribed with a personal message.  I could feel the deviant side of my personality scratching on the door to be let in.  All the possible things I could have Moby write in my book..... "Dear Amy, Thank you for being my soul mate.  I'm lost without you. Love, Moby"  "Dear Amy, I wrote this book just for you. I hope you it doesn't disappoint. Love, Moby"  "Dear Amy, What is the air speed velocity of an unladen African Swallow?  Love, Moby."  I decided I didn't want to get kicked out of the line so just went with a signature.

As I got closer to the counter, I could hear people having conversations with Moby and him laughing and saying "That's a really good question" several times.  I had no funny stories to share and no interesting questions.  What to do?  I realized I had no idea what I was going to say.  I should have been better prepared.  I'd made a mumbling moron out of myself twice before Neil Gaiman and now I was about to do it in front of Moby.  Do I ask him for tips about Veganism?  Then I remembered I was clutching the leather jacket I knew I'd never be able to give up. Doh!  Do I tell him about the cook I knew who introduced me to his music by yelling "Rock the body!" at me over and over while I stood there clueless.  Probably not flattering.  My turn was up.  "Hi.  I'm afraid I don't have any witty questions to ask you."  I'm nothing if not honest.  At least that got a smile.  There was a very nice lady with the bookstore that was taking pictures for everyone so I did get some cool photos after all.

After he did his cool little self-portrait doodle and signed my book, he asked me "What does it say?" Huh?  What does what say?  Turns out he was asking about the tattoo that I had temporarily forgotten I have.

He said he liked it.  What?  Really?  I know I must have had a weird expression on my face because it felt so weird to have Moby think I'd done something cool.  I didn't see this until I got home but I love that the bookstore employee is making a funny face at me considering my tattoo is a quote from Shakespeare.  You'd think he'd have had more appreciation.  Geez.  Seriously, you gotta love the way cameras catch us when we're making funny faces.

Anyway, I stumbled through my social ineptitude and got my book signed and met a really cool person.  It was an excellent evening.

Now, on to the book itself.  When it comes to memoirs, you never really know what you're going to get.  Sometimes, you finish the book and you're not even sure if you can trust what you've read.  The author can say anything, after all, and call it true.  How are we to know?  This felt like a very honest book.  Moby doesn't spare himself his indignities in order to make himself sound cooler.  He's open with his failings and problems and insecurities.  I almost wish I would have read it before meeting him as you realize how normal he is, I probably would have been less nervous.  I'm not going to tell you about any of his stories in particular or give you a broken down critique, that would spoil the reading for you.  I will say that this has enhanced my understand of what musicians go through to get their music heard.  And although the music industry is constantly evolving to the point where musicians don't always feel like their personal and artistic messages are being heard, I hope Moby realizes he still has fans and keeps producing more of this wonderful work.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Review: A Little Life

A Little Life A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Just wow.

I can't remember the last time I read a book that had such thoroughly imagined and articulated characters.

I can't even begin to describe how blown away I was by this book.

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Review: How to Talk to Girls at Parties

How to Talk to Girls at Parties How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I got a free digital copy of this book from Edelweiss and had to abandon it as the formatting was all messed up, rendering it unreadable.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: The Guest Room

The Guest Room The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really like Bohjalian's style so I was looking forward to reading this book. Although the characters were interesting they did not feel fully formed and the majority of the plot felt like it was treading water. By the time I'd finished the story I found I didn't really care what happened. Disappointing.

This review is in exchange for a free e-galley from Netgalley.com.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Review: Waiting for the Barbarians

Waiting for the Barbarians Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm surprised I never had to read this book in school. It makes you wonder how many dissenters there were among the ranks of those perpetuating the Native American genocide. It wouldn't shock me if their fate were similar to that of the protagonist in this book.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Review: A Hologram for the King

A Hologram for the King A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wanted to read this one before I saw the movie so I finally got it from the library. It's a bit of a Willy Loman tale for the modern age. I really loved reading this story but the ending felt a bit rushed compared to the rest of the book and that felt a bit odd. Otherwise, excellent.

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Friday, May 6, 2016

Review: Red Queen

Red Queen Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well this was a fun read. If The Hunger Games had been written as a fairy tale, it would feel a lot like this. Even though you can easily make the reach to such a comparison it doesn't feel like this story borrowed too much from anything else out there. Starting book 2 tomorrow!

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Review: Smoke: A Novel

Smoke: A Novel Smoke: A Novel by Dan Vyleta
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When I read the description for this book I thought it sounded really interesting. It's a unique idea, although the nature of the smoke occasionally reminded me of the Smoke Monster from LOST. This book just did not hold my interest as well as I thought it would. It just felt like it could have been edited tighter in order to make it more dramatic, although I confess I have no idea what could be cut. Interesting idea, could have been better.

This honest review is in exchange for a free copy received from the publisher.

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Review: Ink and Bone

Ink and Bone Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book sounded really interesting and I was looking forward to reading it. Anything that revolves around a library is bound to sound good to a bookworm. It feels like this is a story I don't want to judge until the series is complete but I like where it's going so far. The characters are relatable and feel like real people. The setting is wonderful even though you don't get a perfect feel for its place in time. There's a nice dash of steampunk. I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes.

This review is in exchange for a free e-galley from Netgalley.com.

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